The verse 1 Peter 1:3-3 (NRSV) says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Let me tell you why this verse appeals to me. I love sci-fi shows, particularly those that have to do with Time-travel. One of my earliest favourites in my growing up years was the Back to the Future series starring Michael J. Fox (as 17-year-old Marty McFly) and Christopher Llyod (as eccentric scientist Emmett “Doc” Brown). Creative story plots of how Marty and Doc moving between past and future realities, fixing and undoing problems caused by their present selves, fascinated me so much that I once seriously considered becoming a scientist! (Well, I guess I didn’t drift too far since I studied computing science.)
Anyway, there was a scene I remembered of a guy named Biff Tannen (played by Thomas Francis Wilson Jr.) who altered the timeline when he travelled back in time to give his younger self a sports almanac (a book that recorded the results of every major sports event for the next 50 years). Younger Biff became rich betting on ‘sure-win’ results! Wow, wouldn’t you wish you had such a book?
The idea of foreknowing something and having the sure-win ability to change, alter or effect good ought to be a good thing, right? Well, provided that the sure-win actually happens, I suppose.
But we have all been conditioned from young to know that there is no such thing as a ‘sure-win’ foreknowledge unless someone has the system all rigged — otherwise it is virtually impossible to foretell the future, and such matters would only exist as a fantasy. It is easy to tell of a fantasy because fantasies do not last very long and are easily replaced by other fantasies (hardly anyone remembers Back to the Future today compared to the likes of the Marvel Universe).
But over 2000 years after Jesus died, the churches of today are still talking about Easter — the resurrection of Jesus! Surely a resurrection isn’t believable, as it is not a norm! But why didn’t Easter (the resurrection of Jesus) become a fantasy? Well, let’s investigate some ‘sure-wins’ to find out if they are rigged.
- Jesus’ ‘sure-win’ claims were audacious!
Jesus made many claims that sat uncomfortably with the religious authorities of His days, such as the following:
- He claimed to be the Lord Yahweh Himself by using God’s personal name, I AM (John 8:57-58)
- Jesus forgave sins, but who can forgive sins but God alone? (Luke 5:21)
- He offered eternal life to whoever believes in Him (John 3:16)
But amongst the most audacious of claims were Jesus predicting His death and resurrection. In fact, what was unbelievable was that Jesus predicted it at least three times in the Synoptic Gospels!
- First time (Matthew 16: 21-23, Mark 8:31-32 and Luke 9:21-22) — Jesus had just performed the miracle of feeding the multitudes and was explaining to His disciples that he must suffer many things, be rejected by elders, chief priests, scribes, be killed and be raised again.
- Second Time (Matthew 17:22-23, Mark 9:30-32 and Luke 9:43-45) — After the transfiguration, Jesus told his disciples that He was going to die, but would be raised in three days!
- Third Time (Matthew 20:17-19, Mark 10:32-34 and Luke 18:31-34) — Jesus and His disciples were heading towards Jerusalem for the Passover, and He told them how He would be mocked, condemned, flocked and ultimately crucified, but on the third day he would be raised!
The sheer audacious claims of Jesus would remain a fantasy if His claims did not come to pass.
- Jesus’ sure-win claims were accurately fulfilled!
It is easy to rig a lottery to cheat a sure-win in a fantasy. But how could one ‘rig’ death against the mighty Roman empire? Having up to four Gospel accounts of the resurrection and numerous specifically documented accounts from eye-witnesses who had interacted with Jesus, validated the resurrection of Jesus.
Because Jesus accurately fulfilled the specific prophecies and audacious claims He had made, it validated the identity and credibility of His character as a reliable promise keeper. So not only can we trust in the facts that have happened, but we ought also to seriously regard all that He has taught and said, especially all that has yet to happen.
- He said He will return! (John 14:1-3)
- He will judge all people! (Matthew 25:31-46)
- He will establish a new kingdom, and end death and suffering. (Revelations 21)
- Jesus’ sure-win claims speak of a certain sure-win future for those who would believe in Him!
Christianity does have characteristics of a sure-win fantasy. The only thing is — it’s not a fantasy but a reality! That is why the story never dies even after 2000 years! Fools believe in fantasies, but fools have also been known to reject truths, such as the following:
- The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:16, NRSV).
- Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life (John 5:24, NRSV).
- There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1, NRSV).
All these sure-wins happen all because of Easter. If the resurrection hasn’t happened, our faith would be dead (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). But for Christians and the whole world, there is every reason to rejoice because: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3, NRSV).
This is not a sci-fi fantasy! The sure-win promise still stands! Let us rejoice in the Lord!
Read also: Repentance In The Lord